Cyberpunk 2077 was announced all the way back in 2012, and for years we only heard scraps about CD Projekt RED’s open-world sci-fi RPG. All combined, though, the past six years of interview snippets paint Cyberpunk 2077 as a behemoth of a game, even bigger that The Witcher 3. Now we've finally seen it, and it looks awesome.
During E3 2018, we were among the first to sit down and watch an hour-long demo that showed off a dizzying variety of Cyberpunk's systems, character progression, and combat. It was a stunning introduction to a world that we cannot wait to explore in greater detail. Here's what we learned, plus everything else we know about Cyberpunk 2077:
What is Cyberpunk 2077’s release date?
Where's the E3 gameplay video?
Sadly, CD Project hasn't released video of the live E3 gameplay demo yet. The audio from it leaked, though, and we expect some public gameplay footage will be released before the end of the year.
CD Projekt has mostly stuck with the "when it’s done" line, but we know that it plans to release Cyberpunk 2077 between 2017 and 2021, along with another, still unannounced RPG. Our guess, then, is that Cyberpunk 2077 will release in 2019.
This is backed up by comments from a March 2017 financial results conference during which CD Projekt developers said that progress on Cyberpunk is "quite advanced." That said, the "when it's done" motto is something CD Projekt is serious about (recall it delaying The Witcher 3). We could be looking at 2020, or even 2021.
Is Cyberpunk 2077 an FPS?
Dare we say that Cyberpunk 2077 is a first-person shooter RPG? We dare. Though cutscenes and driving sometimes switch to third-person, Cyberpunk 2077 involves a lot of first-person shooting. With guns. Lots of guns. It's chaotic and fast-paced, but was less aggressive than, say, Doom. During a firefight in the opening moments of the demo, V, the main character, ducked and peeked around cover to spray a gang of organ scavengers with bullets from her automatic pistol. Like Destiny 2, numbers indicating damage dealt exploded with each landed shot—but enemies didn't feel like bullet sponges. We also love how agile V can be.
We know that you have at least one teammate who helps you in combat. His name is Jackie and he's a real badass. He's a big, gruff Latino man who can handle his own in a gunfight. During one boss fight, he picked up a car and used it as mobile cover. In another fight, he charged straight through a wall to tackle an especially tough enemy. He appears to be a main character and he accompanied us throughout the entire demo. It's not clear whether or not other party members can be recruited and swapped out.
Though there's supposedly quite a bit of variety in what abilities V has, in this demo she was an agile cyberninja. She could run and slide to cover and also trigger a slow motion bullet-time mode. She also had a quick dash that let her burst in a specific direction. When bullet-time and this dash were combined, she could quickly flank enemies and deliver fatal killshots.
We also saw a ton of cool weapons, and yes, there are weapons other than guns, though again, there are a lot of guns. A street-modified Tech Shotgun could penetrate cover and enemies, which was a deadly combo when paired with V's upgraded optic implant that could show her enemies through objects. A Smart Rifle takes all the skill out of shooting by firing bullets that track enemies. You merely aim in their general direction and it'll lock onto multiple targets and fire bullets that automatically track their intended targets.
So while of course this is still a CD Projekt open-world RPG, with all the expected trappings like exploration, dialogue, skills, and so on, it's also a shooter, in first person.
Does Cyberpunk 2077 have character creation?
Yep. During the demo we got a quick peak of the character creation screen, which starts with choosing your sex. From there, you can customize hair, tattoos, and clothing. It doesn't look like you can change your character's bone structure, though—no deep menu of facial feature sliders here.
You can also change your stats. There are basics like Strength and Intelligence, but also a 'Cool' stat that perhaps maps to charisma or one's ability to handle stress. The full list from what we saw in the demo: Strength, Constitution, Intelligence, Reflexes, Tech, Cool. Notably, there are some important stats from the tabletop Cyberpunk not represented here, like Empathy. More on why that's significant below.
We're sure Cool will have some other cute functions aside from charisma, as we speculate here. You can also change your backstory, which will affect how characters regard you and may open up new choices and story moments. You know, the standard RPG stuff these days.
However you customize your character, you're still one specific person: V. Not 'Vee.' Just V. You're a mercenary, and that's most of what we know so far.
Will there be romantic relationships?
Also yep. Like in The Witcher 3, you'll be able to pursue romances as V. Because Cyberpunk includes character creation, these romance options will be more diverse than they were in The Witcher series.
"There are a lot more options. You know, you're defining your own character here, which means defining their sexuality any way you want," quest designer Patrick Mills said in an interview with Game Informer. "With Geralt, you had a character whose sexuality was very well defined by the novels and the short stories and the previous games. But in this one, it's up to you to decide. We've got NPCs that are gay, we've got NPCs that are bi, we've got NPCs that are straight, because we want them to feel real and that they have preferences as well."
Is Cyberpunk 2077 mature-rated like The Witcher 3?
Yeah. Cyberpunk 2077 isn't for kids, and definitely seems to be leaning into its inevitable mature rating. In the first few minutes of the demo, V rescued a woman kidnapped by organ scavengers. She was found naked in a bathtub, and the game didn't flinch away from full nudity. In the demo, we played a female V who, during a cutscene that showed her morning routine, was wearing pretty skimpy clothing. There was also a ton of swearing, as expected, but also what sounded like masturbation jokes and more. Cyberpunk 2077 looks keen to capitalize on the 'punk.'
How does dialogue work?
In a lot of RPGs, dialogue sections basically put the game on pause while two characters talk stiffly back and forth. It's not the best way to deliver the story, and thankfully Cyberpunk 2077 has massive improvements in this area. While we're not 100 percent certain, all dialogue appears to happen in real-time. You can continue moving and looking around, but when you focus the camera back on the character you're speaking to, dialogue options appear on screen. There were usually three or four options at any time, which does suggest this system won't be as robust as in some other RPGs.
We're OK with that, though, because this new system and the first-person perspective make for some incredibly tense exchanges. When V and her sidekick Jackie arrived at a Maelstrom gang hideout with the intention of buying a powerful piece of gear, the deal almost went sour. In the middle of the dialogue sequence, characters including V started drawing weapons and pointing them at one another. Meanwhile, dialogue prompts kept appearing that let you try to steer the situation: Do you try to keep calm or open fire? In this situation, we finally managed to deescalate by showing the thugs that we had the money and weren't looking to screw them over.
In an earlier scene, V was apprehended by a group of corporate agents. These extremely deadly characters were looking for information, and mistook V as someone they were looking for. While they pinned her to the ground, they jacked into her cyberware and installed a lie detector app and began an interrogation. If we lied, they would know it immediately and there would be consequences because of that. This new system feels fluid and natural. There's no longer the clear distinction of entering and exiting a conversation with someone. Everything flows together.
What kind of abilities can you unlock?
Cyberware refers to augments that have all sorts of uses. During the demo, we visited a Ripperdoc who could upgrade and replace our cyberware. We opted for a Kiroshi Optical Implant that let us zoom in on objects and also analyze the environment, seeing enemy levels and getting detailed information about them. We also picked up a Subdermal Grip for our gun hand, which increases the damage we do when firing guns.
The implants are wildly cool, but it’s strange that they don’t seem to have downsides in a game world which—at least in its tabletop incarnation—stressed the dangerous sides of cyberware with mental illnesses like cyberpsychosis. It’s a facet of the universe that we know the developers are aware of—the 2013 reveal trailer featured a woman getting arrested by C-SWAT for going off the deep end. On the tabletop, a character’s Empathy and Humanity stats dictated how much cyberware it was safe for them to use, but Empathy seems absent from Cyberpunk 2077.
Later on we got access to some wild toys. One piece of cyberware let V ricochet bullets around corners to kill enemies behind cover. This was accompanied by a UI element that showed you the intended path of the bullet, so you could line up shots perfectly. We also got to see V's mantis-like sword arms, which she could use to eviscerate enemies. Other upgrades let V wallrun, use bullet time, double jump, and dash forward in short bursts. There's even robots you can control remotely, like a spiderbot that can climb walls and ceilings. We didn't get to see it in action, but once we acquired the thing it followed us through levels automatically defending itself during combat.
At one point, V snuck up on an enemy and put them in a chokehold. From there, she could hack into that person's cyberware and access data about that person, some of which is just for lore. If enemies are connected together by a network, though, a bunch of new options open up. In this instance, V hacked one enemy's gun to make it stop working without him realizing. She killed the person she had put in a chokehold and then attacked the two remaining bad guys. As she finished off one, the other tried shooting only to realize his gun was jammed. His confusion created an opening for V to get in close and finish him off.
We were told that some Ripperdocs will also let us suit up with illegal military-grade tech. We can only imagine how cool that stuff will be.
Can you drive cars in Cyberpunk 2077?
Sure can. Cyberpunk 2077 takes place in Night City, a fictional metropolis in Northern California. The city is, by all accounts, massive. It features six districts with no loading screens between them. To help you get around, there are vehicles you can drive in either first or third person. It was hard to get a sense for how realized this part of the game is—we're not sure if there will be all the depth of simulation you see in something like Grand Theft Auto V's driving and traffic. But it did look impressive and smooth.
During one scene, V was ambushed by a truck full of organ scavengers from the first shootout. While her partner Jackie grabbed the wheel, V leaned out of the window to fire back. It was a cool moment of on-rails shooting as we flew through Night City at high speeds. CD Projekt RED says there will be many different vehicles, but we have no idea if you can pilot the cool flying cars some characters had.
How interactive are the environments?
Both in and out of combat, there were many ways we could mess with the environment. Out in the open world, for example, advertisements for products could be touched, giving you a market on your HUD where that item could be purchased. We used that to buy some soda from a vending machine that would heal us over time.
In combat we saw light destructible elements in certain areas. When fighting a boss character in an exo-suit, for example, V shot a lift holding a car to drop it to ground level, creating some on-the-fly cover to hide behind.
What does Night City look and feel like?
Thanks to some awesome crowd technology, the Cyberpunk 2077's Night City feels alive and bustling. It was incredible watching V walk through streets and seeing hundreds of characters walking, playing, talking, and fighting. It's not clear how dynamic this world is, however. We passed by a crime scene in one neighborhood, and I'd like to know whether that crime scene will ever get cleaned up or if it's a static landmark in this area.
What we really love is how deep the characters and their motivations appear to be. The world feels absolutely bursting with factions and cultures. During the demo, we were recruited by a 'fixer' named Dex to track down a piece of powerful tech as a way of proving ourselves a worthy freelancer for hire. That simple mission put us in the sights of a corporate agent in full damage control mode trying to reclaim a shipment of stolen military tech. It was a completely optional decision, but we decided to strike a deal with her and help her reclaim the kit and save face in exchange for the one item that Dex needed.
We went to the gang hideout and decided to play it cool, offering to buy the gear instead of taking it by force. Things almost went bad, but we managed to convince their leader that we were straight and he gave us the item. As he plugged the currency chip into his computer, only then did he realize it contained a virus made by the Corporate agent—she had betrayed us all and got involved when she said she wouldn't. It's almost overwhelming trying to stay on top of who is who and what they want, but it also means Cyberpunk 2077 feels fleshed out and layered in a way that few RPGs ever achieve, at least based on what we've seen so far.
Honestly, our heads are still spinning, and it's hard to say whether the full game will be able to feel as dense and intricate. We never expected that our first look would have so much to cover, which is hopefully a good sign of how much more is still to come for Cyberpunk.
What else do we know about the setting?
The cover of the Night City sourcebook. Click here to enlarge.
Cyberpunk 2077 takes place in the year 2077—which you probably didn’t need us to tell you—and as mentioned it's set within Night City, a fictional city between San Francisco and LA (as described here, although if it's really in Del Coronado Bay it would be well south of LA) that already exists in the Cyberpunk pen and paper RPG created by Mike Pondsmith. Here’s an except from the Night City sourcebook, describing Night City as it exists in Cyberpunk 2020:
"A planned urban community founded in 1994 by the late entrepreneur Richard Alix Night (1954 - 1998). Established at the head of the Del Coronado Bay (dredged to current capacity in 1999), and facing the Pacific Ocean to the west, Night City is a modern city of the twenty-first century. Its wide streets and ultra-modern towers are home to over a million people, with another four-and-a-half million living in the greater Night City areas of Westbrook, North Oak, Heywood, Pacifica, South Night City and Rancho Coronado.
An exciting and vibrant place to live, Night City is even more fun to visit; world famous for its slogan "The City on the Edge of Tomorrow," the area hosts almost nine million tourists, conventioneers and corporate travellers every year. A planned community with an advanced rapid transit system, its own Net LDL, and a Corporate Center boasting representatives from over a dozen of the world's most powerful megacorps, Night City is a shining example of Technology Triumphant over the Trouble of the Past."
That’s an optimistic description, of course, leaving out the “mucky, nasty” parts of Night City, as Pondsmith puts it in the video above. Punks and corporate stooges of all varieties wander these foggy, once Mob-ruled streets, and by 2023, corporations are openly warring for them. Cyberpunk 2077 will show us what happened to the city in the aftermath of that war.
“People have wondered what’s going to happen, there are clues and hints—if we told you more we’d have to kill you, as usual,” said Pondsmith during Cyberpunk 2077’s reveal in 2012, which you can watch below. “One of them is a big hint I left for everybody at the end of the fourth Corporate War, when I dropped a small pocket tactical nuke in the middle of the Arasaka Towers, and that left kind of a really large real estate space that we’re gonna be playing around with.”
The event he’s referring to happened in 2024 on the Cyberpunk timeline, which means we step into Night City a little over 50 years after part of the downtown was destroyed and, presumably, rebuilt.
Will there be multiplayer?
As of E3 2018, we've learned that Cyberpunk 2077 won't launch with multiplayer, but might get some form of it after release.
We first heard about multiplayer features back in 2013, but CD Projekt RED clearly knew the word could agitate its fans. "It will be a story-based RPG experience with amazing single-player playthroughs," reassured managing director Adam Badowski in a 2013 talk with Eurogamer, "but we're going to add multiplayer features."
In 2017, CD Projekt CEO Adam Kiciński said that multiplayer features would ensure Cyberpunk's "long-term success," which caused some concerns given the current kerfuffle over microtransactions, especially with Star Wars Battlefront 2's loot box progression system going over so poorly.
.@PrettyBadTweets Worry not. When thinking CP2077, think nothing less than TW3 — huge single player, open world, story-driven RPG. No hidden catch, you get what you pay for — no bullshit, just honest gaming like with Wild Hunt. We leave greed to others.November 19, 2017
CD Projekt responded to the concerns with a tweet meant to reassure fans that they'll still be getting a Witcher 3-style singleplayer epic. "Worry not," it said. "When thinking CP2077, think nothing less than TW3—huge single player, open world, story-driven RPG. No hidden catch, you get what you pay for—no bullshit, just honest gaming like with Wild Hunt. We leave greed to others."
But seriously, will there be microtransactions?
CD Projekt says no. The E3 2018 trailer contains a little Easter egg which confirms that there will be no microtransactions in Cyberpunk 2077. (Enlarge the image and read the red text, in which CD Projekt responds to the question: "In a single player role-playing game? Are you nuts?")
Freeze-frame of Cyberpunk 2077... easter egg FAQ hidden behind! oooOOO pic.twitter.com/d3NgFulOIYJune 10, 2018
- No loot boxes, obviously.
- In 2018, CD Projekt acquired a new developer to support Cyberpunk development.
- Witcher 3 composer Marcin Przybyłowicz is working on the soundtrack.
- Back in 2013, the idea was floated that they may record all dialogue in each character’s language—Spanish, for instance—and have the player use a translator implant to decipher it. Which sounds pretty cool.
- ‘Braindances,’ a form of futuristic, drug-like VR, will play a big role. "People live someone else’s life while sleeping in the gutter," lead gameplay designer Marcin Janiszewski told The Verge.
- And regarding how much focus has shifted from other projects to Cyberpunk 2077, back in September 2016 we learned that more people are working on Cyberpunk than ever worked on The Witcher 3 at the same time.
- Someone tried to extort money from CD Projekt by holding out of date design documents hostage.
- If you're interested in the pen and paper RPG, Cyberpunk 2020, you can pick up the roleplaying book for $30.